17th August, 2012
Do you look at spreadsheets, research or continuously switch between applications? Maybe you should look into getting a second monitor. Studies by Microsoft reveal that a second monitor can increase productivity between nine and 50 per cent.
KEYS TO A DOUBLE LIFE: An image of a modern PC with both VGA (top) and DVI (bottom) ports
And an increase in productivity benefits everyone, especially accountants at month end. The number of spreadsheets and journals an accountant looks at and flips between can be enormous. I saw one person copy data from one spreadsheet, minimise it, paste it into another, look at the result, switch to another spreadsheet and back to the original spreadsheet.
When I offered him a second monitor, he was dubious that it would help. In fact, he was adamant he didn’t want it due to the desk space it would take up. “Just try it for two weeks,” I said. Two weeks later I returned to pick it up. “I don’t want to give it back. I don’t have to keep minimising and moving windows,” he said, “Can you get one for Bill over there too?”
So how do you go about adding a second monitor to your computer? Most modern laptops will allow a second monitor to be added. For laptops running Windows, which include Asus, HP, Dell, Acer and Toshiba, this is a matter of plugging in a monitor with a VGA connection. For Apple Macs, sometimes an adapter is required to plug in an external monitor. Check your manual to be sure.
Desktop PCs can be a little trickier. If your PC has only one video port, then you can purchase a newer graphics card relatively cheaply. Most stores will install it for you. However, most modern PCs come with a VGA port (normally blue) and a DVI port (normally white(, so you can add a second monitor to either of those. Monitors come with both VGA and DVI cables.
Once your secondary monitor is connected, you need to tell your computer how you’d like it configured.
In Windows your options are:
• Extend these displays: This gives you the option to extend your desktop over two monitors. This is the option that will increase your productivity.
• Duplicate these displays: This is good for presentations when connecting to a projector or a TV. You can be in front of the computer and see close-up what is displaying on the larger screen. Useful if you have your back to the larger screen.
• Show your desktop on one monitor: This is useful for when you dock your laptop or you want to close the lid for some reason. Just make sure your laptop isn’t set to go to sleep when the lid is closed.
An Apple Mac has the same functions but their terminology is different. On a Mac your options are:
• Extended Desktop: Extend your desktop to the secondary monitor.
• Video Mirroring: Duplicate the display on the secondary display.
• Closed Clamshell: Show your desktop on the secondary monitor, allowing you to close your Macbook.
When your secondary monitor is set up, using it is easy. You can open a spreadsheet and drag it to the second monitor. You can do the same with a web browser or even drag a tab of a web browser to the secondary monitor. That way you can write, research and check email with far less switching between windows. You can also drag highlighted text from one word processor window to another.
If you know someone with a dual-monitor setup, go and have a chat to them and ask them how it has improved their productivity. Ask them if they’d go back to using one monitor. Sit down and get a feel for how it may help you become more productive (and spend less time in the office).
For further details on adding a second monitor to your PC or Mac, see the following webpages.
For Apple Macs:
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